With its pulsating Samba beats, colorful parades and sexy dancers, the Carnival of Brazil is probably one of the grandest festivals in the world. And, we only have about a week towards its celebration. If you want to book your reservation, you must do it without delay now that the people are already coming from all parts of the globe.
The Carnival of Brazil is annually held 46 days before the Easter Sunday. In particular days of Lent, the Roman Catholics as well as other Christians, abstain from meat. This activity was originally called “carnelevare” which literally means to “raise” the meat. In essence, carnelevare means to remove the meat. The roots of the Carnival are traced back to Saturnalia, a pagan festival which was adapted to Christianity. This is the season wherein the Roman Catholics practice discipline in the spirit of repentance. At the same time, the festival is a preparation for Christ’s passing and resurrection.
In other versions, Saturnalia was a local festival wherein masters exchange clothes with their slaves in a day of drunken festivity. The Roman Catholics merged this celebration with their Bacchanalia, the feast in honor of Bacchus who is the Roman counterpart to the Greek Dionysius. Originally intended as a prelude to Ash Wednesday, the Carnival quickly developed into a feast of indulgences – a massive revelry of grasping food, music, sex and alcohol for the last time – just before the 40 days of abstinence, fasting and personal reflection. In this account, the word Carnival comes from the Latin word Carne Vale which means “goodbye to the flesh.”
And now that the roots are interesting enough and whichever versions you take, you can no longer deny that the Brazilian Carnival is famous. Nothing can top the parade of countless awesome floats, thousands of drummers, singers and dancers who wear elaborate costumes and sometimes almost no costume at all. Well, that is one thing that the Carnivals of Brazil have in common; the festival has several different versions.
Carnival of Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Style
In 1961, the modern carnival was born in Rio de Janeiro. Today, we call it the Rio Carnival. This festivity dates back to the time when Entrudo, a Portuguese festival wherein participants used to throw food, water and mud in the streets. This event often leads to riots which are closely similar to the modern Andean Carnival. The first masquerade and ball party was held in 1840. A decade later, the parade included floats that were drawn by horses and military bands.
However, samba was not part of the celebration until 1917. The samba is a mixture of different music such as Cuban habanera, African batuques, European polka, and Angolan semba. The modern samba that we know today is from the black Brazilian who arrived in Rio in 1888, after the slavery in Brazil was abolished.
Today, the carnival is organized by samba schools that in essence are neighborhood associations that provide various community needs such as health care and education. The Rio Carnival is the most famous in the world.
Carnival of Brazil: Salvador de Bahia Style
Salvador de Bahia is Brazil’s first government capital from 1549 to 1763. And although much has changed, the city remains as the country’s center for music. Aside from being the Portuguese sugar capital, the city flourished because it was the center for slave trade. No wonder why it has become the largest center for African culture in the Americas. It is obvious despite the streets made of cobblestone and colonial architecture because amidst these creations, the remarkable Bahian beat is audible from audio speakers.
This beat becomes overwhelming when hundreds of drummers are out in the streets. The drummer parade begins at noon and ends up the morning of the following day. According to Carlinhos Brown, a Bahian superstar, they play to celebrate happiness because the carnival is for everyone, not only for those who have money.
This year, the Carnival will be held on February 19 and 20. You heard it that the carnival is for everybody and if you have planned to be there and march in the parade, there is no reason for you not to indulge in one of the world’s most wonderful festival; and that is the Carnival of Brazil.